Small businesses are struggling. If your favorite restaurant, coffee house, apparel store or charming neighborhood shop hasn’t yet closed its doors for good, it may do so very soon. The Coronavirus has decimated retail sales and, unlike chain stores, small businesses just do not have the resources to survive indefinitely.
On Balboa Island, where I have my store, it seems like every day I see a new “Going Out of Business” or “For Lease” sign on Marine Avenue.
Not only is the charm of our shopping districts at risk, small businesses employ 44.1 percent of all employees in this country, according to the Small Business Administration. And sales taxes generated by small business make up a large portion of the City’s budget.
So far, the City’s efforts to help small business have been, in my opinion, too little and too late. This can be seen in the continuing and accelerating permanent business closures.
The current City Council even voted down a proposed $20,000 marketing grant of mainly Federal funds to the merchants of Balboa Island. I am sure the Council had its reasons, but I think it is significant that no one on the Council operates a small store or restaurant. Most are lawyers or retired public employees.
A successful re-opening of the City and its businesses after the Coronavirus is crucial to the wellbeing of the City, both financially and culturally. A knowledgeable and practical approach to re-opening small business will be essential.
Small business needs a champion on the City Council. I believe Noah Blom is that person.
I have met with Noah Blom and he is the only candidate running for City Council that took the time to meet with me and other merchants on the island. Not once, but twice. Noah is not a politician. He is an entrepreneur. He knows what it is to start a business, create jobs and to make payroll each month. He and his wife Marin founded and operate the Arc restaurants. As a leader in the hospitality industry, he worked closely with City officials to expedite approval of sidewalk dining and other regulatory changes to help struggling merchants survive the pandemic.
Noah has a history of giving back to the community. He and Marin are active in anti-cancer charities (Noah’s mother died of that horrible disease), educational charities and, appropriately for a restaurateur, food banks. He is even endorsed by the Newport Beach Police Association and Firefighters Association.
Our City Council could use Noah’s entrepreneurial energy and in-depth business knowledge. Noah has a proven record of achievement and would make a great addition to the City Council.
Matthew Pour, Founder of Balboa Island Merchants Association